Sam Haskins (born 11 November 1926, died 26 November 2009), was a British photographer born and raised in South Africa. He started his photography career in Johannesburg and then moved to London where he studied photography during the Festival of Britain era, from 1949-1951.
The lightheartedness Sam brought to the content of his images was combined with his signature quest to show his models as natural and real people. Sam’s singular focus and drive, produced one of the great pioneering moments in the history of post-war photography with the production of ‘Five Girls’ in 1962. This groundbreaking work, defined and liberated figure photography from the cliche, making ‘Five Girls’ an instant best seller.
Sam set relentlessly high standards for himself and his photography, focused on creativity and presentation. His unapologetic celebration of life, beauty, sensuality, and visual ideas found a huge international audience. 'Cowboy Kate,' first published in 1964, is a whimsical Western tale and the first creative photography book to use pure visual narrative and the conscious use of grain as creative tool. The design, fashion, photography, music, and film industries have referenced ‘Cowboy Kate’ for many years, making ‘Cowboy Kate’ one of the best selling art books of all time.
‘Cowboy Kate’ won the Prix Nadar in Paris in 1964, and was included in the 'The Open Book: A History of the Photographic Book from 1878 to the Present' exhibition at the International Center of Photography, New York in 2005.
Sam was also a photographer's photographer, a master of studio and location shooting, and one of the great black & white printers of his generation. His content was expansive, ranging from tender and profound to whimsical and humorous, and was reflected in his work, from an ethnic homage in "African Image" and his nudes in 'Five Girls,' 'Cowboy Kate,' and 'November Girl,' to his graphic photo illustrations in 'Haskins Posters.'
While in his mid-70s, Sam Hoskins was ‘discovered’ by the fashion industry whom unknowingly had been referencing his work for decades.